Moon | South Carolina Aquarium


Apr 13


Loggerhead (Caretta caretta)

Stranding Location: Found in the surf at Garden City, SC

Arrival Date: 04/06/2016

Age: Juvenile

Weight: 31.8 kg (~70 lbs.)

Case History

At approximately 6 pm on Thursday evening, a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle was seen listing in the surf in Garden City near the Moonfish beach access. Onlookers became concerned about the turtle and called it in to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). SCDNR volunteers and members of the Garden City S.C.U.T.E. team quickly responded, confirmed that the turtle was in extremely poor health and retrieved the animal from the water. Once on the beach, its only movement was a blink response when the team touched the eye lid. Cami Blaylock, a certified transporter with SCDNR, drove the turtle to the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston where staff were waiting to provide lifesaving medical care.


Upon its arrival at the Aquarium’s Medical Facility, the loggerhead received a physical examination and luckily there were no signs of trauma. This appeared to be a typical case of Debilitated Turtle Syndrome – emaciation from not eating for months, a heavy load of epibionts and algae indicating it was floating for a long time and extreme lethargy. Diagnostics were performed to better understand the etiology of the patient and to guide treatments. The turtle’s heart rate was only 10 beats per minute and blood work was extremely poor (undetectable blood glucose, 5% Packed Cell Volume, 2.0 total blood protein). Supportive care was provided to stabilize the animal which included IV hetastarch fluids, IV 50% dextrose fluids for much needed sugar to the blood, SQ Normosol fluids to combat dehydration, vitamins K, C and B to combat serious blood deficiencies from malnutrition and Ceftazadime antibiotics to combat internal infection. Because the animal was weak, s/he was placed in a temporary tank with wet foam for the night.


12 April 2016: We are happy to report that “Moon” is responding to medications! Since admittance on April 6th, staff have raised the water level enough to allow the turtle to swim and feed on small amounts of cut fish. Because of Moon’s emaciation, s/he wears out very quickly and has to return to only a few inches of water. With the way things are progressing, we hope to be able to move Moon out of the “ICU” tank and into a normal hospital pool very soon!

18 June 2016: This magnificent sub-adult loggerhead is responding very well to treatment. Despite suffering from debilitated turtle syndrome, his/her GI tract has bounced back quickly and is able to absorb and process the food effectively. DTS turtles usually take months until they start gaining weight and putting the nutrients into growth. Moon however isn’t a typical turtle and is constantly exceeding expectations! S/he is also a big fan of frozen fish pops!

1 August 2016: Moon continues to do great and is steadily gaining weight. One of our more food motivated turtles, s/he is eager to eat and always looking for more! We are waiting for some improvement in blood work but are hopeful this turtle will make it out in late summer.

17 August 2016:  Moon is recovering so well, she is cleared for release within the next few weeks! The release has not been scheduled yet so keep an eye out for details on our Facebook page.

Release Date

August 26, 2016

Release Location

Isle of Palms County Park

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